AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and President Barack Obama at a company event in 2011.
With 277 million users and counting, LinkedIn has become the definitive business networking site. If you're just using the site as a place to keep your resume online, however, then you're missing out on some great opportunities.
LinkedIn has been rolling out several new features in the past year, including a new publishing platform and a revamped "Who's Viewed Your Profile" function
Here's a look at 11 ways you can make LinkedIn a more valuable tool for keeping in touch with your network and getting recruiters to come to you.
Follow your favorite "Influencers" in Pulse.
You may not have been paying attention, but LinkedIn has been churning out original content from thought leaders around the world. The site's Pulse page collects posts from handpicked "Influencers" like Richard Branson, Martha Stewart, and Bill Gates. There are now about 500 Influencers from a wide variety of industries, and their stories are often collected in packages, like the recent "Best Advice" collection.
You can choose to follow your favorites to have their posts appear in your updates feed, and check out Pulse to explore other motivational articles. The Influencers you follow appear on your profile, so not only will you get the latest insights from incredibly successful people, but it also shows recruiters your interests and aspirations.
Share relevant articles with your network, and consider writing your own.
While Facebook and Twitter are great outlets for sharing lighthearted viral content with friends, LinkedIn is the place to share articles and videos relevant to your industry and business in general.
And soon, all users will be able to use LinkedIn as a blog. On Feb. 19, LinkedIn opened up its publishing platform to 25,000 regular users. Within the next several weeks, all users will be able to use the tool. If you don't have access yet but want to, you can apply for early access here.
You can use your LinkedIn blog to add a new level of personality and expertise to your page. Share details about your new job, showcase a new project you're working on, or share some professional insight that your network could learn from.
Weed out connections that are no longer useful.
LinkedIn's developers initially skipped a "block user" feature in an attempt to be a truly open networking site, but they finally gave in to users' demands for one. If someone you don't know is being pushy or you simply don't want them to access your information anymore, you can go to that user's page and select "Block or report" in the dropdown box next to the "Endorse" icon.
Monitor who's seeing your page, and adjust accordingly.
Soon all users will also be able to use the revamped "Who's Viewed Your Profile" feature. Even non-Premium users will be able to see how users are finding them, and what industries these users belong to. It will additionally provide personalized suggestions on how to attract more attention to your page. Here's an example of what it will look like, via LinkedIn's official blog:
Join groups to improve your visibility.
LinkedIn says that active group users get four times as many profile views as those who don't use this resource. A good place to start is to join your alma mater's official group and see what discussions are going on. And if you're on a job hunt, it could be a good place to reach out to alumni.
Use the "Relationship" tab to keep track of your contacts.
If you would like to add someone you don't personally know, send them a personalized message explaining why you would like to connect and how sharing your business network can be beneficial. As your network grows, you can use the "Relationship" tab on a user's page to remind yourself of details regarding your professional relationship (and only you will be able to see it).
Endorse and recommend your connections.
Don't forget to make use of endorsements and recommendations. It helps your connections build credibility and makes them more likely to return the favor. LinkedIn is also a perfect place to recommend colleagues with a brief anecdote, as well as ask for recommendations from previous employers. Don't waste your time with generic compliments — the only recommendations that matter to recruiters on LinkedIn are specific and to the point.
Tap into the job listings.
There's an easy-to-use job listings tool that's helpful if you are either looking for a job or looking for an employee. All of your searches are kept private, so feel free to browse the listings LinkedIn recommends for you based on information in your profile, search for keywords, and find opportunities within your networks.
Use a professional headshot and a customized URL.
Multiple reports have shown that LinkedIn pages with profile pictures get more views than those that don't. Your photo should be clear, not include other people, and be appropriate for your industry. If you don't have access to a professional headshot, use one where you look your best in proper business attire. Likewise, a customized URL will make you much easier to search, and it looks better than a jumble of numbers when you share your link.
Make your page easy to scan.
The worst thing you can do is have your profile be one long list. Recruiters won't bother learning about you if your page is a chore to read. Make sure you distribute your information across each of the sections LinkedIn offers, and arrange them in an order you consider most relevant to your industry and the job you're seeking. For example, if you have experience in the non-profit sector, highlight it in "Volunteer Experience & Causes" rather than the main "Experience" list.
Be sure to write a summary.
Finally, don't neglect the crucial "Summary" box. Think of it as a first impression of your professional profile. It is also the perfect place for keywords that will enhance search engine optimization (SEO) benefits for your page.
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